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Sound Engineer Accidentally Gets High On LSD After Cleaning Hippie-Era Synthesizer

engineer-accidentally-gets-high-on-lsd

Elliot Curtis, Broadcast Operations Manager for KPIX Television had a trip of his life after merely trying to fix a ’60s era synthesizer he found in a Cal State University East Bay. The synthesizer had been sitting unused since the 1960s, and, Curtis being a fan of the instrument, volunteered to take it home and get it fixed.

What Curtis wasn’t aware of was of an urban myth that ’60s musicians would get high on psychedelic drug LSD for inspiration. They would supposedly wet their fingers and touch the device coated in LSD while performing, but this had been just that – rumors.

That is until Curtis started to tinker with the synthesizer and noticed “a crystalline residue” that dissolved in his hand. Curtis then began to feel the effects of what would become a nine-hour acid trip.

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The ’60s synthesizer that had been abandoned for decades at Cal State University East Bay

Chemical testing confirmed the substance to be LSD. Luckily, his wife was there to supervise.

“It was… I felt like I was tripping on LSD”

Elon Curtis

After the trip subsided, Curtis finished repairing the vintage Buchla synthesizer while wearing a protective glove. The instrument is now back at Cal State East Bay and ready for music students to explore.

elon-curtis-repairing-synthesizer
Curtis finished repairing the synthesizer while wearing gloves

Coincidentally, Albert Hoffman, who first discovered the substance in 1943, accidentally dosed himself with the drug in a similar manner. Because the synth had been stored in a cold, dark place for a long time, the LSD maintained its strength.

don-buchla
Don Buchla was an experimental electronic music composer and a friend to Owsley Stanley, the Grateful Dead’s sound engineer / Wiki

This particular synthesizer, Buchla Model 100, itself, had quite a trippy history. The device was created by Don Buchla of the University of California, Berkeley, who was friends with the Grateful Dead’s sound engineer Owsley Stanley.

Stanley was renowned for cooking up purest LSD at the time and even referenced as in ‘Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’.

Curtis’s wife, Holly found the experience quite enjoyable and remarked:

“I think it’s super wild. I think this whole situation is a nice chapter in the history of counter-culture.”

Was someone hiding their stash in the synthesizer and forgot all about it?It’s unclear whether the LSD was accidentally spilled onto the synthesizer or if it was stashed there on purpose.


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By Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist at Phantom Insider. After getting her bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Computer Design, she has written for a number of online and print publications. Since joining Phantom Insider, Jessica’s interests have broadened and loves spending time with her husband, two children and two dogs.

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